The dangers
of opioids
are real.

Using opioids, heroin, or serious pain medications goes hand in hand with risk — from full-blown opioid addiction to accidental overdose caused by doubling up on pain medication. About 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids, and 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. 90% of overdose deaths are accidental.

The dangers of opioids are real. Misuse and addiction can happen to a parent, a businessperson, an older individual, a high school athlete…someone you know. But you can make a difference.

What is Naloxone?

We’ve been taught to take precautions in life. If we go out on a boat, we make sure we have life preservers on board. If we cook or use a fireplace, we make sure we have a fire extinguisher in easy reach. We prepare for possible emergencies in the best ways we can.

The best way to prepare for an opioid emergency is to have naloxone on hand. Naloxone immediately reverses the effects of opioids in the body. It’s a simple nasal spray that does not provide a high, is not addicting, and can save a life. You can get it without a prescription at Maine pharmacies displaying the “Naloxone Available Here” sign.

signs of an overdose

Blue or purple fingernails or lips

Unresponsive to voice or touch

Pinpoint-sized pupils

Slow or irregular heartbeat

Slow or irregular breathing

Pale, clammy skin

How to use naloxone

Call 911

Place your thumb on the plunger and your fingers on either side of the plunger.

Gently insert the nozzle in one nostril of the person.

Press the plunger to spray the entire dose of naloxone into one nostril.

Comfort the person while you wait for the paramedics to arrive.

Frequent Questions

What are Opioids?

Opioids include prescription pain medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Demerol, and Percocet, as well as heroin, morphine, and fentanyl. The best way to know if you are taking an opioid is to ask your physician or pharmacist.

Who’s at risk for an opioid overdose?

Anyone using opioids in any form is at risk of overdose. It’s important to take your medication as prescribed. If you find you are using more than what’s been prescribed, talk with your doctor. If you suspect someone you know is taking more than the prescribed amount of medication, talk with his or her doctor right away.

Why is it important for my family and friends to know about naloxone?

Overdoses are rarely planned. In fact, 90% of overdoses are accidental. If you overdose, you will be unable to help yourself. It’s important for your family and friends to have naloxone on hand so that they will be able to administer it in the case of overdose.

How do I get naloxone?

Because naloxone is used only to save the life of someone overdosing, does not provide a high, and is not addicting, you can get the nasal spray without a doctor’s prescription at any Maine pharmacy displaying the “Naloxone Available Here” sign. If you don’t see the sign, simply ask the pharmacist if it is available. If you don’t have health insurance you can get it at Portland Public Health, Maine General Health, and Bangor Public Health.

What happens if the person is overdosing on something besides opioids, and I administer naloxone?

Naloxone is a safe drug. It will not work on or harm someone who has overdosed on other drugs or alcohol. If you suspect an overdose, administer naloxone.

What more can I do

  • For Prescribers:
  • for Pharmacists:
  • For Law Enforcement:
  • For Everyone Else:

Talk to your patients about the dangers of opioids.

  • Have naloxone on hand for anyone who requests it.
  • Display the “Naloxone Available Here” sign.
  • Reinforce that naloxone is safe and not addicting when providing to patients.
  • Suggest naloxone to every patient receiving opioids.

  • Make sure your police department carries naloxone.
  • Display the “Naloxone Available Here” sign.

  • Educate yourself about opioids.
  • Know the warning signs of overdose, know how to help.
  • Have it on hand! Place a dose of naloxone in your first aid kit. If you carry a first aid kit in your car, place a dose in there as well.
  • Use all medication as prescribed, take unused medication to your local police department. Never share your prescriptions with anyone.